John Rowlands, The Manor House's Garden Supervisor

John Rowlands, The Manor House's Garden Supervisor gives us his account of his favourite part of the grounds that he so lovingly looks after.

From the moment I drive through the electric gates in the morning at 5.45am and look over the Bybrook Weir towards the Manor, it can take my breath away. Over the finely manicured lawns my eyes are drawn to the Italian steps, elegant and oozing with history.

The first thing I notice every day as I leave my vehicle, is the sound of the dawn chorus. The grounds are teaming with birds of all sorts, birds I have rarely seen in my life time all in one place singing.

Being situated in the open countryside, we have all kinds of wildlife, two types of deer roam the gardens at night and are often seen in the woodlands by day.

We do not use any kind of chemical fertiliser of feeds in our gardens and it is full of insects, and almost all the native types of bumble bee can be seen throughout the summer months.

 We have an orchard where we keep our very own honey bees and for the past two years we have been sowing wild meadow flower seeds there for the bees to collect the pollen from. It has been thriving with flowers and even Pyramid Orchids have grown there for the fist time this year. This must be close on my favourite part of the gardens at the moment.

Around each corner, up each path and flight of step is something different. This year particularly, the kitchen garden is thriving with produce, mostly ready to pick and use. Full of high raised hot beds that produce much more than the normal vegetable plot and all fertilised with our own organic compost.

There are three large deep ponds along the middle part of the garden. The middle pond of the three has a balcony  just above it. Each time I take a garden tour around the grounds I ask the guests if they would like to stop here a moment and take in the scene in front of the balcony, where they can see a good layout of a large part of the gardens and the architectural layout of the roof tops of the Manor house. This must be my all year favourite place to stop and take in the beauty of the Manor House grounds. Each season brings something new to stop and smile at.